As regular and reliable as the clocks going backwards in Autumn the flu season is almost upon us and every year the Government and NHS communications are urging us to have the flu vaccination to protect us from this year’s most likely strains.
Yet, just like last year and the year before people will be unsure whether they should have the flu jab or not and part of the things that worry them are the most common flu jab myths working their way around the internet.
So we thought we would dispel some of the myths that surround the flu vaccination to allow people to make a fully informed decision for themselves.
Five Common Myths about flu jabs and flu season
Myth Number 1: the flu jab gives you a mild dose of flu because it contains small amounts of the virus and forces your body to fight it and in so doing builds up your immunity to it.
FACT: This is the most widely held myth about the flu jab, the reality is the NHS does not give you the flu. Instead, the vaccination contains elements of the virus that are “inactivated” this means they have no disease-producing capability. A vaccine made up of inactive viruses cannot make you unwell.
Myth #2: Flu vaccines are the same each year, so if you had a vaccine last year you won’t need one this year.
FACT: every year virologists across the world collaborate with each other and the World Health Organisation to predict the most likely 3 or 4 strains of flu that will become prevalent this year and how to combat them. Many non-virologists, would be surprised by the number of different flu strains there are in the world and shocked by how much the annual flu jab changes from year to year.
The reality is that flu strains vary so much from year to the next that previous vaccinations may offer little or no protection and the only safe way to protect yourself is to have a further jab every autumn.
Myth #3: wait until winter to get your flu jab and you will be protected for the whole flu season.
FACT: First of all the flu vaccinations are designed to provide protection for the whole season and there is no advantage to waiting until later in the flu season to receive your vaccination. Indeed having it in October actually gives the flu jab plenty of time to work before the worst of the flu season arrives.
Also if you wait too long you put yourself at risk of catching flu before you have your vaccination.
Myth #4: You should only have a flu jab from your GP or it won’t be as good.
FACT: The NHS has been using partner agencies such as pharmacists and convenient locations to deliver the flu jab for many years now. Tesco, Asda, Lloyds and Boots pharmacies along with many more are all providing this service. However, you would be well advised to ensure it is an official NHS partner prior to having the service.
Myth #5: I am fit and healthy, I don’t need the flu jab and cannot pass the flu to vulnerable people.
FACT: often family and professional carers will not have the flu vaccine because they do not require it and do not want to take a jab off someone who needs it more. The problem is that if they get the flu, just like with Covid-19, you can pass it on to the people you care for even if you don’t have symptoms. So if you are caring for or live with anybody in the at risk group you should talk to a healthcare expert to see if you should also have the flu jab.
For more information about the flu and the flu vaccine visit the NHS Flu Vaccine website.